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Long-term functional outcomes after resection of tongue cancer: determining the optimal reconstruction method


The appropriate tongue reconstruction method is critical for better functional outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal reconstructive method for restoring postoperative function based on the extent of resection. We retrospectively reviewed 43 patients with lateral oral tongue cancer who underwent glossectomy between January 2010 and October 2014. Tongue mobility, articulation, verbal diadochokinesis, speech intelligibility and swallowing outcomes were assessed 2–3 years postoperative and were analyzed according to resected tongue volume and the method of reconstruction. In partial glossectomy cases, the secondary intention group had better function in tongue mobility, articulation, and speech intelligibility (p < 0.001 for all) than the free flap reconstruction group. In contrast, in hemi-glossectomy cases, the free flap reconstruction group had better tongue mobility, articulation, verbal diadochokinesis and speech intelligibility (p < 0.05 for all) than the secondary intention group. There was no significant difference in swallowing outcome between the secondary intention and flap reconstruction groups in both partial glossectomy and hemi-glossectomy cases. In conclusion, secondary intention appears to be the most appropriate option after partial glossectomy. However, flap reconstruction is necessary to restore tongue volume and function in patients who undergo a resection of more than half of the tongue volume.

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Correspondence to Kyung Tae.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Hanyang University Guri Hospital.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Ji, Y.B., Cho, Y.H., Song, C.M. et al. Long-term functional outcomes after resection of tongue cancer: determining the optimal reconstruction method. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 274, 3751–3756 (2017).

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  • Tongue cancer
  • Glossectomy
  • Reconstruction
  • Speech
  • Swallowing
  • Functional outcomes